Dirty StreetsEditor: I sometimes wonder if Mayor Kurt L...


January 13, 1992

Dirty Streets

Editor: I sometimes wonder if Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and members of the Baltimore City Council ever take the time to walk around Baltimore City.

We have been told street cleaners have to go because they cost too much, but that they will be replaced by trucks that will do a better job.

I live in Locust Point. Our streets used to be reasonably clean. Now they are fast becoming an open sewer: trash is everywhere.

The waste cans on the corners are always overflowing. The whole mess is dumping so much trash into the sewers that they cannot function properly. And there are no trucks.

I realize money is tight for the city, but unless our elected officials want to see Baltimore become a sandbox for the homeless and poor, somebody had better wake up.

This is not the middle ages. People expect for their tax dollars the basic services cities are supposed to provide. Keeping the streets clean is a basic service we have every right to expect.

More people will just give up and move to the counties leaving the city with an even smaller tax base.

If Baltimore has reached the point where it can no longer provide basic services, why should anyone who can move continue to live here?

R. M. Hackney.


Test Assistance

Editor: I would like to offer a clarification of your recent excellent article on the Abell Foundation report on the number of advanced placement tests taken by Baltimore City public high school students.

A spokesman for the school system defended the distressingly low number of tests taken by contending that advanced placement classes are small (20 students) and that high schools do not have the staff resources to offer courses that have so few students. The article then stated that Baltimore City College, which accounted for over 80 percent of the tests taken in Baltimore City, was able to increase the number of students taking AP tests fivefold in one year as a result of assistance from the Abell Foundation.

It is true that the Abell Foundation assisted City in its test program but the assistance did not include funds to reduce class sizes. In fact, the advance placement English and history classes at City contained 38 and 33 students, respectively. The aid that the foundation did provide, for books and teacher training, was offered to every public high school in Baltimore. Only City accepted that offer.

This year Poly and Western have asked for and received assistance from the foundation to improve their test performance. The offer of assistance to the city's high schools remains.

Alyson T. Cooke.


The writer is a program officer for the Abell Foundation.

Mass Transit

Editor: The $151 billion highway/transit reauthorization legislation passed by Congress last year authorizes $31.5 billion for mass transit over six years.

Mass transit is also eligible for $24 billion in ''flexible'' funding under which states and cities can decide what goes to highways and what goes to mass transit. Inter-city passenger rail (Amtrak) is not eligible for this funding.

Another $725 million is authorized for magnetic levitation development. But only $50 million (plus $25 million for research and development) in available for a program for which both maglev and high speed conventional rail are eligible.

Our excessive dependence on automobiles, trucks, and planes is the principal cause of many serious problems. These include air pollution, acid rain, the greenhouse effect and global warming, dependence on imported oil and many, many others.

The most effective way to solve these problems is use our fuel-efficient but under-used railroads. The reauthorization legislation is a step in this direction.

The bad news is that inter-city rail passenger service (Amtrak) is not eligible for this flexible funding and that $725 million is authorized for magnetic levitation development.

This technology has never been used in actual service, and is not technically ready. It is an entirely different technology from our railroad network.

Amtrak should be eligible for the flexible funding; and instead of maglev, we should adopt the proven and successful French TGV system. Unlike maglev, the TGV trains can continue on existing track, far beyond the (temporary) ends of the new high speed track, thus making it possible to upgrade our railroads in stages, as traffic increases and money becomes available.

John J. Bowman Jr.


Marylanders of the Year

Editor: Gallimaufry (Jan. 6) confuses temporary publicity with solid long-term achievement.

Discussing Cal Ripken's predecessors as your ''Marylander of the Year,'' the column unfairly puts down as reborn under-achievers a number of individuals who in fact have continued quietly to make outstanding contributions to the community and to their professions.

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